Thursday, September 29, 2011

Razors for His Birthday

Since Bonnie posted on her amazing birthday present, I decided to post on mine. My husband had a birthday last week, and he had mentioned the need for a new razor, although he said he didn't want to waste a birthday present on it. Then that week I saw on a local deal blog, that I could print some coupons for razors and they would be free or cheap at Wal-mart.

So that morning I printed out the coupons and while the oldest was at preschool co-op the boys and I jogged to Wal-mart and got the razors. Wal-mart is not my first pick to shop (there is a Meijer, Target, Wal-mart, and 3 other grocery stores within jogging distance of my house), but their coupon policy comes in handy sometimes. If the value of the coupon is greater than the price of the product, they will subtract the extra from your total purchase price. So since some of the coupons exceeded the value of the product, I got $1 back for buying those razors, which I put towards the price of the other razors, to get the whole lot of them for free or nearly free.

You'll notice there are women's razors as well as men's - I gave them all to my husband as a "look, I won't be stealing yours anymore, I have my own now" and then the disposable ones I'll probably donate to a shelter.

The kids helped me wrap them up and when my husband questioned the oldest about his birthday present, she said it had something to do with "shaving his legs". Nice!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Supermarket Savings Tip

I just started using this tip and it's amazing I didn't come across this idea a long time ago.

When buying produce in 5 pound bags or 3 pound bags, weigh two or three bags and pick the heaviest.

Today I bought a 5 pound bag of apples that actually weighed 5.75 pounds! Of course you may only find a bag that is 5 1/3 pounds but that's still more than 5 pounds. I haven't yet found a bag that is less than the marked weight.

Let's do the math.
  • 5 pounds of apples hand selected (additional time)
    • $1.37/pound
    • total cost $6.85
  • 5 pound bag of apples
    • $5.47 total cost
    • actually 5 3/4 pounds
    • and faster too!
  • Savings $1.38
    • plus the extra 3/4 pounds 
    • plus the shorter time in the store (time is money!)
My 3 year old shopping assistant is usually very helpful, but lately he's had the "gimme's." So speedy shopping is essential for my own sanity!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tamales for His Birthday Present

Last week was my husband's birthday. He loves tamales, so for his birthday present (rather than buying him something) I made him a batch of homemade tamales. This is my second attempt at tamale making, and I've learned that it's not as intimidating as it seems. It's time consuming in that you let the meat and then the finished tamales cook for several hours, but the actual creation isn't too bad. Spreading the masa dough on the corn husks is the long part, and that's actually fun--like playing with edible Mexican-flavored playdough. The wonderful thing about this Mexican food is that it's easy to make and inexpensive (you can use cheap meat and stretch it to fill a lot of tamales); it's also freezable and easy to reheat.

Since my husband hunts, we have a lot of game meat in the freezer. With all the Mexican spices, you can't tell much difference between elk roast shredded for the filling and the traditional pork/chicken or beef. So I was able to use what I had on hand, plus $6 for a new bag of corn husks, $3.75 for a new bag of Maseca, and $1 for another bottle of chili pepper (all of which I'll be able to use again for my next batch of tamales). With $10 and some time invested, I was able to produce 42 tamales and wrap them into 18 lunch portions to put in the freezer. Because it's garden season, I also had an abundance of tomatoes and green peppers that I turned into homemade salsa. My husband loved his birthday present!

For those of you interested in learning to make tamales, I used this website for my recipe and step-by-step guide: The detailed explanations and pictures really boosted my confidence the first time around, and putting spices in the masa dough really increases the flavor of the tamales (which are sometimes rather bland without).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wheat in Bulk

I noticed a post on one of my favorite money saving blogs about buying 25 pounds of wheat from a bulk foods store for $19. I've bought wheat in bulk for a long time and I've never paid $19 for it.

I always buy my wheat from the Home Storage Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. You don't have to be Mormon to buy wheat there. The Home Storage Centers are run by volunteers so you do need to call ahead and see when the center will be open before going.

Home Storage Centers are all over the United States and Canada. Here is a map of the different locations. 
  • Locate the Home Storage Center closest to you.
  • Then call the friendly people at the number listed. 
  • Let them know that you would like to come buy a 25 pound bag of wheat. 
  • Ask when they are open. 
  • If they ask what ward you are in, tell them you are not Mormon but would like to buy some wheat.

The current price for 25 pounds or hard white wheat or hard red wheat is $11.45. Look on the order form on the right hand side under the bulk column to see the prices.

And if you need more info on packaging and storing wheat for long-term use has lots of information.

Dead Bread?

Ever wind up with stale bread? Or bake a loaf bread only to discover that you left out the salt? Or have your bread fall in the oven? Or have leftover waffles that no one will eat?

When that happens, I normally slice the bread and throw it in my toaster oven on low for 45 minutes, then break it in pieces and use the blender to make it into bread crumbs, which I freeze for use in meatloaf, meatballs, breaded chicken, etc.

I've just come across another use for not-so-perfect bread: bread pudding. Pumpkin bread pudding, actually. It's like a lighter, faster pumpkin pie. I found a recipe online , (leaving out the currants and nuts) and, wonder of wonders, my husband and all three children devoured it!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Easy Rainbow Cupcakes!

This is actually an idea I stole from another sister, Carol, but we used it for my daughters birthday and it turned out great! I like low-key birthday parties, so this was the opening activity -
Rainbow Cupcakes.
It's easy. 
  • First, mix up a white cake mix.
  • Second, separate it into smaller bowls and use food color to color the batter in each bowl. We used red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  • Third, put cupcake liners in the pan and let the kids spoon in whatever colors they want! Just make sure you stop them when it gets 2/3 full.
  • Fourth, bake them!
We played games while they baked. Twenty minutes after putting them in we stacked them up, stuck candles in them, and sang "Happy Birthday!" They were so cute I didn't even bother icing them.

The kids loved it, it was easy, and it was way cheap! One note though, it only made 16 cupcakes instead of the usual 24. So go have fun; don't wait for a birthday!

By the way, my daughter's most played with present so far: the two frogs her cousin brought over.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cooling the House Economically

Now that it's officially fall South Texas weather has decided to cool off just a little. This morning it was 70 degrees when I took the kids to school and they all wanted jackets!

When I got home from the school run I decided to open some windows to cool the house (for free) before we get back up to 90 degrees later today. I even left the front door open for a few minutes while helping a kiddo ride his bike.

Mr. Birdy liked the open door policy and paid us a visit. I managed to escort him out without any harm. Maybe I'll change my open door policy a little :)


Welcome! I'm Margaret - just one of the FiveFrugalSisters. We grew up together in a family of 10 children. Our Mom was the queen of thrift. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" was a common phrase. While none of us have ten kids of our own we do have 20 kids between the six of us. Visit our About page for why the FiveFrugalSisters is actually about six sisters.

Fun trivia:
  • we each had/will have a baby in 2011 (no we didn't coordinate that)
  • we each play a musical instrument (or two)
  • we live in Texas, Utah, Ohio, and Tennessee
  • we each have at least a bachelor's degree
  • we choose to be frugal so that we can stay home with our children
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